South African Airways (SAA) workers have announced that they would be downing tools beginning on Friday morning in protest at plans by the airline to restructure its operations and retrench more than 1,000 employees.
The SAA staff announced on Thursday that they intend to ground their airplanes on Friday and Saturday in a move meant to force the airliner to reverse looming retrenchments.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) would lead the SAA strike involving 3,000 workers who include technical and non-technical staff.
Responding to the move, the cash-strapped SAA said it would ground all of its domestic and regional flights in order to minimise flight delays as a result of the strike.
South Africa’s second opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) jumped on to the opportunity presented by the strike and announced Thursday that it would support the industrial action.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party did not only support the strike action but would also join it.
“The EFF not only supports the strike action, but we will join in together with our ground forces,” Ndlozi said.
Ndlozi said the party would mobilise support for the striking workers from the broader community, saying if there would be a need to shut down airports during the strike, then that would be done.
“We call on workers to unite and fight retrenchments. The failure of SAA cannot be blamed on ordinary workers. They cannot be the ones who take the responsibility by losing jobs that support their families and relatives.
“If needs be, all airports must be shut down, until SAA guarantees jobs for all SAA workers,” Ndlozi said.